English for parents
US English for parents speaking English as a non-native language with their
Please note: this list is just a compilation of current usage. It‟s not a recommendation
that people should actually say all these things to their own children.
(most topics have first a list of specialized terms, and then a list of typical sentences)
1. Diminutive words;儿语；for objects
2. Diminutive words for animals
3. Diminutive words/Terms of endearment for family members, people 4. Expressing affection to your child, terms of endearment for your child
5. What to say about someone else‟s baby or child
8. Waking up in the morning
9. Clothing and getting dressed
11. Safety and injuries
12. Playtime indoors: fun, toys
13. Playtime indoors: learning, ABC‟s etc
14. Playtime - outside
15. Playing with other children (sharing, fighting) 16. What children themselves say
18. Helping around the house
19. Bathroom talk, body parts
20. Bath time, washing up, cleanliness
21. Bed time
22. Words of encouragement, praise, compliments 23. Parents finding out what‟s wrong and giving reassurance
26. On the go (transportation)
27. Doctor and hospital visits
29. Holiday/Special days
30. The adult world (seen from a child‟s eyes)
31. Cuss-type;诅咒；words that (some) children are allowed to use 32. Cultural notes
1. Diminutive/child-like words for things:
cuddly (any plush;长毛绒；toy, stuffed animal, etc)
owie, booboo -- A child‟s injury (could be a cut, bruise;擦伤；, burn, etc...)
dolly (for a doll)
duckie or ducky (toy duck)
teddybear (toy stuffed/plush bear)
bally or ballie (for a toy ball)
PJ‟s/nighties (for pajamas)
shoesies (for shoes) (only when being affectionate or playful) footsies (for feet) (only when being affectionate or playful, e.g., “Whose footsies are these?”, said while pretending not to know.)
(Note: there‟s a game called “footsie”, where each person tries to put his foot over the other person‟s.)
toesies (for toes)
tummy (for stomach)
choo-choo train (for a train)
2. Diminutive/child-like words for animals
ducky or duckie (for a duck, regardless of age)
horsy or horsie (for any horse, regardless of age)
bunny-rabbit (for any rabbit, regardless of age)
doggy, puppy, puppy-dog (for any dog, whether young or old) lambie or lamby (for a little lamb, or sometimes even any sheep) froggy (for frog)
kitty-cat, pussy-cat (for any cat)
birdy, birdie for bird
When you want to suggest that the animal is very loveable, you can intensify any of these by saying “sweet little lambie”, etc.
Note: despite the above examples, it doesn‟t work to add the “y” or “ie” ending to just any word to make it a diminutive. If you tried to say “cowie” for “cow” it would come off like
a joke. My son came up with “wrenchie;小扳钳；” for his favorite tool; that was hilarious;胡闹；.
3. Diminutive/ terms of endearment/familiar words for family members, people children = kids, kiddies, the little ones, munchkins
Names of family members:
Father: Dada, Daddy, Dad, Pop (rare), Pa (rare, more rural/old-fashioned) Mother: Mama, Mommy, Mom, Ma (rare, more rural/old-fashioned) Note: supposedly when a baby first starts talking they will say Dada and Mama; in most families in the US it evolves to Mommy and Daddy, and later to Mom and Dad when the children get old enough and start wanting to not sound like little kids Sister: Sis, Sissy (for sister; the sister in question won‟t necessarily like this)
Grandad, Grandpa, Gramps (for grandfather)
Grandma, Gramma, Granny (for grandmother)
(The most common usage is Granddad and Grandma, with Gramps and Granny having more of an old-fashioned country sound to many people.)
Cuz (for a cousin, not very common)
Auntie (for Aunt)
People outside the family often use “Master” or “Miss” to address a child, as in “And
how is Master John today?” or “How is Miss Jane?”. This is a sort of playful formality. Parents use it sometimes too.
4. Terms of endearment used for children: (all these are used by some people, while others find some or all corny, sickly sweet,
excessively sentimental,...it just depends on the person‟s style)
Honey (one of the most common. Also used between spouses)
Sweetie (also common)
My Little One
My Dear One
Precious (usually not for boy unless he‟s a baby)
Cutie-pie (not for boys unless they‟re babies)
Honey-bunny or honey-bun
Sweet (You can say “Hello, Sweet.” Or “Come here, Sweet”)
Hey, Beaut! Hi, Beautiful! (A father could say this when greeting his daughter)
Little Pumpkin (personally I dislike this one) The Apple of my Eye (I also dislike this one; as a child I came up with retorts like
“Cucumber of my Foot”. However, it‟s widely used.)
Rascal (can be meant affectionately, for people who are sick of sentimentality)
Munchkin (as in, perhaps, “Come on, munchkins, we‟re going to the show.”)
You‟re my absolute favorite boy/girl.
You‟re my treasure.
You make me so happy.
Come sit on my lap.
Come snuggle;依偎；up next to me.
I need some hugs.
I‟m running very low on kisses.
World‟s neatest little girl/boy.
You‟re my precious one.
You light up my day.
You‟re (my) number one boy/girl.
I wouldn‟t trade you for all the gold in the world.
You‟re my biggest joy.
You‟re my sunshine.
They don‟t make them any better than this one.
I‟d do anything for you. [Personally, I‟d be cautious about using this one!]
“How much does Mommy/Daddy love John?” “This much!” (the child answers this with the arms stretched out wide). Or, answers can be made more colorful, e.g., “From here to the moon and back.”, etc.
You get 3 guesses as to who my favorite boy/girl is. (the 3 guesses are a sort of joke; they can answer with the names of other children to be funny)
5. What to say about or to someone else’s baby or child
bundle of joy – classic term referring to a new baby
So this is your new arrival?
I think he has his mommy‟s eyes.
What an armful.
How‟s the little one? Keeping you busy?
Is he sleeping through the night?
Has he said his first word yet?
She‟s beyond precious. (Flattering: Meaning that the word “precious” itself isn‟t enough
to say how amazing this child is.)
Isn‟t he adorable?
What an angel-face!
Isn‟t she a darling?
Isn‟t she a dear!
He‟s so cute! (After a certain age boys might not want this said about them, except by girls of the same age. And some fathers object to it ever being used for their sons.) Look at that button nose. (To a baby only)
Look at that mop of hair! (this is meant as a compliment when said of a baby) He‟s getting to be such a big boy.
You‟ve got your hands full with this one.
Daddy‟s little girl. (Usually refers to a girl whose father seems to dote;溺爱；on her a
She‟ll wind you around her little finger. (Meaning, your daughter can get you to do anything she wants.)
baby food = soft pureed;浓汤；food that comes in bottles, for babies who don‟t have
enough teeth yet to chew
cranky (very often used to describe a baby that is in a bad mood, crying, angry) fussy – another word used very often to describe babies that are crying, restless, etc colicky (a baby that won‟t stop crying; colic has a specific medical meaning, but people use the word without any real proof that the baby has digestive problems) to burp a baby
to have gas - often said of babies who seem “colicky” - “He needs to be burped; he‟s
to swaddle a baby (wrap a baby tightly with a blanket, for little babies who are comforted by this)
to start a baby on solids, to start a baby on solid foods
teething= when the teeth start coming in (“She‟s very cranky; she must be teething.”)
changing table = table on which the baby is put for changing the diaper changing pad = small washable vinyl pad that a baby is put on for changing the diaper mobile = toy attached to a crib, with several things hanging from it, that babies like to look at
crib;婴儿床； = a baby‟s bed with railing all around it to prevent falling off
crib railings = the vertical slats of wood that surround a crib and keep a baby from falling out of its crib
umbrella stroller;轻便婴孩车； = a type of stroller that folds compactly; looks sort of like an umbrella when folded
double stroller = a stroller for two children
in-line double stroller = one child sits in front, the other in behind
side-by-side double stroller = the children sit side by side
pacifier = plastic/rubber item put in baby‟s mouth for sucking comfort
to suck = what babies do as they drink milk or use a pacifier
playpen;婴儿用围栏； = a box or space confined by a fence inside which a baby plays; they can‟t get out of it
folding playpen = a playpen designed to fold up, convenient for parents rocker = rocking chair
to sterilize the nipples, bottles
formula = artificial milk substitute for babies
nipple ring = the plastic part with a hole in it that the artificial nipple is inserted in, which is then screwed to the baby bottle
to coo over a baby = for an adult to say nonsense things (usually done by parents, grandparents, friends) as they gaze admiringly at a baby
cootchie-cootchie-coo (spelling?) Common nonsense phrase people say as they tickle;胳肢；a baby
peekaboo - game that babies love. You hide your eyes behind your hands, or a towel, or anything else, then you uncover your eyes and say “Peekaboo!”
bed guardrail = a plastic or wooden railing placed on one side of a bed, fixed by sliding part of it under a mattress. Prevents the child from rolling off the bed teething ring = comfort toy that babies chew on when they have pain from teeth coming in
whiny, to whine - He‟s whining for his bottle. / He gets rather whiny at dinner-time.
wipes = disposable paper towels that come moist out of the box, to clean a baby when changing their diaper
training pants / pullups = like diapers, but shaped like pants, so a child being potty-trained can pull them up and down all by him/herself
newborn – a baby up to about 6 weeks or so (maybe longer)
preemie – a baby born prematurely (more than 3 weeks before due date)
growth spurt – period of time when a baby grows particularly fast (“You just can‟t stop
eating! You must be having a growth spurt!”)
pattycakes – another game often played with babies, involving clapping hands and
saying a traditional rhyme
“Up you go!” (Said when picking a child out of the crib, for example.)
“It‟s time for a nap.”
“He wants/needs to be held.”
It‟s time to burp Baby.
Do you need to be burped?
Did you wet your diaper?
Mommy‟s going to change you.
You need to be changed.
Did he wet his pants? (Urine in the diaper) Do you want Mommy to pick you up? Has she started on solids yet?
She turned over on her side for the first time today.
She‟s started sitting up.
She started crawling at six months. Let Mommy rock you a bit. (Meaning: the mother is taking the baby in her lap and
rocking in the rocking chair.)
Hi, Hiya (Hello)
See you later, alligator.
Wave bye-bye to the nice man. (Something you‟d say to a 1-year-old) Hey, champ. (For a boy)
How‟s my buddy?
How‟s my princess? (for a girl)
I missed you (terribly / very much). Did you miss me?
How did your day go?
8. Waking up
Did you sleep well?
Did you have a bad night?
Wake up, sleepyhead.
Time to get going.
We need to get moving.
It‟s already late.
Are you still lazing around?
Rise and shine!
9. Clothing and getting dressed:
onesie = a common type of clothing for babies, that is one piece, and snap buttons
around the legs
ponytail = long girl‟s (usually not boy‟s) hair, tied together but still hanging down
pigtail = long girl‟s hair braided and hanging down
sneakers/ tennis shoes = shoes used for athletic activities
party dress = a fancy girl‟s dress that she‟d wear to a party
Sunday best = more formal clothes children have, that they‟d wear to formal family functions (weddings, funerals) or, in religious families, to attend services barrette = clip worn in girl‟s hair to keep it in place
panties = underwear pants worn by girls
snowsuit = suit covering the entire body (except head) for going out in very cold weather or snow, often worn over another set of clothes
booties = just about any soft shoe worn by babies. Although it‟s a diminutive of “boots”,
which are higher around the ankles than regular shoes, a lot of things that people call “booties” aren‟t really like this
velcro;维可牢尼龙搭扣； = a kind of closure for clothing or shoes where the two pieces just stick together when you press them together; to open you just pull them apart bobby pins = hair pins worn by girls
It‟s time to get dressed.
What do you want to wear today?
What do you feel like wearing today?
You need to change; we‟re going to the store.
This shirt doesn‟t go with those pants.
It‟s too cold for short sleeves.
Is this shirt too tight?
Did you outgrow these pants already? Wow, you‟re growing fast.
Are those shoes pinching your toes?
Here‟s a pretty little shirt for you. (the words “pretty little” are just added to be affectionate)
You tore these pants; you can‟t wear them today.
Look, you have a hole in your shirt.
Pick up your socks and put them in the laundry basket.
How did your clothes get so dirty?
You look smashing!
That dress was made for you!
That‟s your style of shirt.
It‟s not really your look.
Red is definitely your color.
Do you really have to change clothes three times a day?
Why does it take an hour to get dressed?
About the actual process of putting clothes on:
Your pants are on backwards.
You‟ve got your shoes on the wrong way.
Let me button up your shirt.
Your shirt is buttoned up wrong.
Do you know how to tie your shoelaces yet?
Straighten out your legs.
Put your legs straight out.
Don't bend your legs.
I can't get your pants on with your legs like that.
Come on, we need to get these pants on.
Sit still. / Stand still. / Stop squirming;蠕动；. / Stop fidgeting;烦躁；.
Will you button up the coat by yourself?
Unbutton your shirt.
Zip up your jacket; it‟s cold out.
Unzip your jacket.
Now put on your sweater.
First put your arm through the sleeve. Now put your head through. You put your shoes on wrong / the wrong way.
You've got your right shoe on your left foot, and the left shoe on the right foot.
Those shoes are on wrong.
These shoes don't match/ don't go together.
Your sweater is on backwards. (meaning, the front side is in back). You have your sweater on backwards.
Your sweater is inside-out. (meaning, the inside part is showing on the outside).
You have your sweater on inside-out.
Put your hand through the sleeve. Now the other one. Stretch your legs. Don't bend
Put your clothes on. / Get dressed.
Put your hand/arm through the sleeve.
Your right arm goes in the right sleeve.
Now put your other arm in the other sleeve.
Your little finger is stuck in the sleeve; let me get it out. Lift up your leg.
Put your foot through here / through this opening. (i.e., through the opening in the
Now your other foot / leg.
Take your clothes off. / Take off your clothes. ("Get undressed." is also correct.)
Pull down your pants. (this is when using the toilet)
10. Kitchen / mealtime vocabulary:
sippy cup = a leakproof cup with a top (but no nipple)
booster seat - put on top of a kitchen chair to help a child sit higher bib - piece of cloth attached around neck and hanging down, to catch spilled food
crackers - In the US, these are never sweet. Salty and crunchy;易碎的；.
cookies - In the US, these are always sweet and they‟re not cakes.
sweets = candy = treats = goodies general words for any sugar-based food that‟s fun
cotton candy (A really disgusting (well, many kids like it) “treat” of puffed up colored ugar) s
soda-pop (often used for soft drinks, like coke, pepsi, etc) jellybeans (sort of the quintessential;典型的；American candy)
milk and cookies = the quintessential American afterschool snack popsicle;冰棒；= frozen dessert on a stick, usually fruit-flavored lollipop, sucker = hard sugar candy on a stick that slowly dissolves in mouth when sucked on, often fruit-flavored
jello = a gelatin sweet dessert, often fruit-flavored
Kitchen / mealtime sentences:
Does baby need to be burped?
Don‟t throw food on the floor.
Stop playing with your food.
Don‟t smear that all over the table.
No elbows on the table. (Said mostly by picky parents.) We‟re having your favorite today! (Meaning, the child‟s favorite food dish.)
Come sit at the table.
Don‟t talk with your mouth full.
Just eat one at a time.
Don‟t put all of those in your mouth at once; you could choke.
Wash up, it‟s time to eat.
"Don't spill tomato sauce on your clothes; it's very hard to remove." "You know you're not supposed to spill food on your clothes." Din-din is ready. (Din-din is a silly word for dinner.) Help Mommy set the table.
Help Daddy do the dishes.
Help us clear off the table.
You‟re a little piggy! (Said to a child who‟s very messy.)
Can I be excused? (Very common way for child to ask if he can leave the table.) You‟re excused. (Adult gives child permission to leave the table.)
11. Safety and injuries
safety scissors = scissors with blunt ends and dull blades that can cut paper but can‟t injure children
safety plug = a plastic piece put in an electrical outlet to prevent a child from sticking
something like a screwdriver or pencil in it
outlet cover = a plastic box that fits over an outlet to prevent children from playing with
strangers - any adults the child doesn‟t know, and therefore should not trust
bad people - a term for thieves, criminals, etc, for young children who aren‟t ready for detailed discussion of this
It‟s bad for you. (Very common general way of telling a child why they shouldn‟t do
Don‟t run in the house.
Don‟t run while carrying that pencil.
These tools are too sharp; they‟re only for grownups.
The oven is very hot; you could burn yourself. Don‟t touch anything on the stove.
If you tip that pan over, you will get burned very badly. Don‟t leave toys on the stairs; people will trip on them.
Don‟t climb on this table; it can‟t hold you / it could tip over.
This ladder isn‟t stable.
Don‟t touch the electrical outlets.
Don‟t ever put anything in the outlets.
Don‟t try to plug anything in the outlet.
Don‟t chew on that cord.
Don‟t sit too close to the TV.
It‟s nothing. It‟s just a little cut. You‟ll live.
It‟s just a bruise.
You‟re lucky; you could have been hurt much more badly.
Don‟t use Mary‟s cup; you could catch her cold/germs that way.
Don‟t ever talk to strangers.
Never accept anything from a stranger.
"Don't play with matches!"
"Playing with fire is very dangerous."
"Don't cross the street without looking both ways." "Always look both ways before crossing the street." "Never cross the street without looking to make sure no cars are coming."
"Wait for the green light before you cross the street." "Remember, some cars don't stop for red lights. You always have to be careful."
To make a stronger impression, on a child who tried to do something very dangerous:
That was a really stupid thing to do.
Have you taken leave of your senses;发疯；?
Are you out of your mind;发狂；?
What possessed you to do that?
What were you THINKING?
Real swift, you turned the burner on. Don‟t you know that could start a fire!?
Climb up on the roof? What, are you crazy or something?
12. Playtime indoors – toys, fun, games
stacking cups = a set of cups, each one smaller than the last, which can either nest or